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Travelbuddies: BOOKS about Indonesia

Updated: Aug 6, 2019


While travelling you for sure learn most about a country chatting to the people about their lifes, interests and issues. Personally, I really love to have a second input: suitable books which accompany me during my journeys. It´s fun to combine things you see and hear with those impressions from the books. Here are my favorit "reads" about this wonderful & diverse country.



Indonesien etc. – Exploring the improbable nation from ELIZABETH PISANI

This was the first book I read about Indonesia and I fournd it´s a very good one to start with. This book gives you a deep insight into the Indonesian history, the variety of cultures and religions within the country, some knowledge about politics and also the everyday life of "the "Indonesians". The author discusses a lot of topics which you will also cross during your travels. After living in Jakarta for a while working as a journalist and the Ministry of health, Pisani travels for more than a year from island to island and just decides to say YES to everything. Meaning every invitation, food, present, experience someone might offer to her. As you will find out in Indonesia, this is a very hard challenge in such a hospitable country. This book not only gives you a very good base knowledge about Indonesia, more than that it shows you the friendliness and generosity of it´s people. And above all it´s quite well written, & does not get boring at all. Also have a look at Parisi´s TEDTalks or other books.


You can also find this book in German language by the title "Indonesien und so weiter – Die Erkundung einer unglaublichen Nation" from "DuMont Reiseabenteuer"







Toraja - Misadventures of a Social Anthropologist in Sulawesi from NIGEL BARLEY

A funny book written by an anthropologist traveling to Tana Toraja and find this crazy, incredible architecture and culture. He decides to invite a bunch of Torajan „carpenters“ to build a house for an museum in London. Barley describes in a funny way how he gets to known the Torajan people and how they get to know the Europeans in their country. A nice culture clash story with some facts about Tana Toraja. For some the funny description of his travels through Toraja shows some disrespect, well I think he also looks at the Europeans in the same way. I hope most of the travelers are aware that the Tana Toraja has nowadays his traditional, very fascinating side as well as the modern one with a well school educated population.


Nigel Barley has a serious of other books about his travels as an anthropologist, I heard they are all a good funny read. For example: Hallo Mister Puttymann or Island of Demons.


You can also find this book in German language by the title Auf den Spuren von Mr.Spock – Eine Reise nach Indonesien.






The Buru- Tetralogie from Pramoedya Ananta Toer

This four books are my all time favorites. It takes you back to a part of Indonesian history, the colonization of the Dutch. It´s about the life story of Minke, which struggels for a great independent nation of Indonesia during the Dutch colonial rule.


The four books named:

1 This Earth of Mankind (Original: Bumi Manusia)

2 Child of all nations (Original: Anak Semua Bangsa)

3 Footsteps (Original: Jejak Langkah)

4 House of Glass (Original: Rumah Kaca)


Yes, four books are a lot, but you can also just read the first two. The third and the fourth part are more into the struggles of building an anti- imperialist movement, a little bit more edgy to read. But anyway I am sure you want to know how Minke´s story will end. You should also learn more about Pram´s life story, as it is really dramatically interesting in which circumstances this books are written.


You can also find the Tetralogie in German language by the titles:

1 Garten der Menschheit

2 Kind aller Völker

3 Spur der Schritte

4 Haus aus Glas



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